According to a study published in journal Cardiovascular Research on October 26, 2020, about 15 per cent deaths across the world due to COVID-19 can be linked to long-term exposure to air pollution.
The study was conducted with the epidemiological data available from the previous studies conducted in the United States and China on air pollution, COVID-19 and SARS outbreak of 2003. It was supported by additional data from Italy till the third week of June 2020. The study also used satellite data that showed global exposure to polluting particulate matter (PM 2.5).
As per the study, the proportion of COVID-19 deaths in East Asia linked to air pollution was the highest at 27 per cent. Europe and North America stood at the 2nd and 3rd ranks at 19 and 17 per cent respectively with respect to COVID-19 deaths attributable to Air Pollution.
Thomas Münzel, one of the researchers of the study, said, “When people inhale polluted air, the very small polluting particles (PM2.5), migrate from the lungs to the blood and blood vessels, causing inflammation and severe oxidative stress. This causes damage to the inner lining of arteries, the endothelium, and leads to the narrowing and stiffening of the arteries. The virus SARS-CoV-2 also enters the body via the lungs, causing similar damage to blood vessels.”
It is also no secret that the COVID-19 virus attacks the lungs causing breathing issues among the patients. Air pollution makes it easier for the virus to defeat the fighting capacity of lungs as their defence and immunity is already weak because of long exposure to polluted air. The study, by highlighting these numbers aims to bring fAirocus on the number of deaths that could have been prevented by controlling human-induced air pollution. It also serves as a warning for the need to address air pollution effectively and efficiently at the earliest in order to contain losses in future pandemics which are very likely to happen considering the way we lead our lives. It highlights that a sustainable lifestyle is no longer an option but a compulsion.